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114th Congress   }                                     {        Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session     }                                     {       114-153

======================================================================



 
         SPACE RESOURCE EXPLORATION AND UTILIZATION ACT OF 2015

                                _______
                                

 June 15, 2015.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

     Mr. Smith of Texas, from the Committee on Science, Space, and 
                  Technology, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                             MINORITY VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 1508]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, to whom 
was referred the bill (H.R. 1508) to promote the development of 
a United States commercial space resource exploration and 
utilization industry and to increase the exploration and 
utilization of resources in outer space, having considered the 
same, report favorably thereon with an amendment and recommend 
that the bill as amended do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Committee Statement and Views....................................     3
Section-by-Section...............................................     9
Explanation of Amendments........................................    10
Committee Consideration..........................................    10
Roll Call Votes..................................................    11
Application of Law to the Legislative Branch.....................    15
Statement of Oversight Findings and Recommendations of the 
  Committee......................................................    15
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............    15
Duplication of Federal Programs..................................    15
Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings..............................    15
Federal Advisory Committee Act...................................    15
Unfunded Mandate Statement.......................................    15
Earmark Identification...........................................    15
Committee Estimate...............................................    16
Budget Authority and Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate...    16
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill as Reported.............    17
Minority Views...................................................    20

    The amendment is as follows:
  Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SEC. 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``Space Resource Exploration and 
Utilization Act of 2015''.

SEC. 2. TITLE 51 AMENDMENT.

  (a) In General.--Subtitle V of title 51, United States Code, is 
amended by adding at the end the following new chapter:

       ``CHAPTER 513--SPACE RESOURCE EXPLORATION AND UTILIZATION

``Sec.
``51301. Definitions.
``51302. Commercialization of space resource exploration and 
utilization.
``51303. Legal framework.

``Sec. 51301. Definitions

  ``In this chapter:
          ``(1) Space resource.--The term `space resource' means a 
        natural resource of any kind found in situ in outer space.
          ``(2) Asteroid resource.--The term `asteroid resource' means 
        a space resource found on or within a single asteroid.
          ``(3) State.--The term `State' means any of the several 
        States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto 
        Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the 
        Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and any other 
        commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United States.
          ``(4) United states commercial space resource utilization 
        entity.--The term `United States commercial space resource 
        utilization entity' means an entity providing space resource 
        exploration or utilization services, the control of which is 
        held by persons other than a Federal, State, local, or foreign 
        government, and that is--
                  ``(A) duly organized under the laws of a State;
                  ``(B) subject to the subject matter and personal 
                jurisdiction of the courts of the United States; or
                  ``(C) a foreign entity that has voluntarily submitted 
                to the subject matter and personal jurisdiction of the 
                courts of the United States.

``Sec. 51302. Commercialization of space resource exploration and 
                    utilization

  ``(a) In General.--The President, acting through appropriate Federal 
agencies, shall--
          ``(1) facilitate the commercial exploration and utilization 
        of space resources to meet national needs;
          ``(2) discourage government barriers to the development of 
        economically viable, safe, and stable industries for the 
        exploration and utilization of space resources in manners 
        consistent with the existing international obligations of the 
        United States; and
          ``(3) promote the right of United States commercial entities 
        to explore outer space and utilize space resources, in 
        accordance with the existing international obligations of the 
        United States, free from harmful interference, and to transfer 
        or sell such resources.
  ``(b) Report Required.--Not later than 180 days after the date of the 
enactment of this section, the President shall submit to Congress a 
report that contains recommendations for--
          ``(1) the allocation of responsibilities relating to the 
        exploration and utilization of space resources among Federal 
        agencies; and
          ``(2) any authorities necessary to meet the international 
        obligations of the United States with respect to the 
        exploration and utilization of space resources.

``Sec. 51303. Legal framework

  ``(a) Property Rights.--Any asteroid resources obtained in outer 
space are the property of the entity that obtained such resources, 
which shall be entitled to all property rights thereto, consistent with 
applicable provisions of Federal law and existing international 
obligations.
  ``(b) Safety of Operations.--A United States commercial space 
resource utilization entity shall avoid causing harmful interference in 
outer space.
  ``(c) Civil Action for Relief From Harmful Interference.--A United 
States commercial space resource utilization entity may bring a civil 
action for appropriate legal or equitable relief, or both, under this 
chapter for any action by another entity subject to United States 
jurisdiction causing harmful interference to its operations with 
respect to an asteroid resource utilization activity in outer space.
  ``(d) Rule of Decision.--In a civil action brought pursuant to 
subsection (c) with respect to an asteroid resource utilization 
activity in outer space, a court shall enter judgment in favor of the 
plaintiff if the court finds--
          ``(1) the plaintiff--
                  ``(A) acted in accordance with all existing 
                international obligations of the United States; and
                  ``(B) was first in time to conduct the activity; and
          ``(2) the activity is reasonable for the exploration and 
        utilization of asteroid resources.
  ``(e) Exclusive Jurisdiction.--The district courts of the United 
States shall have original jurisdiction over an action under this 
chapter without regard to the amount in controversy.''.
  (b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of chapters for title 51, United 
States Code, is amended by adding at the end of the items for subtitle 
V the following:

``513. Space resource exploration and utilization...........   51301''.

                     Committee Statement and Views


                          PURPOSE AND SUMMARY

    The purpose of H.R. 1508, the ``Space Resource Exploration 
and Utilization Act of 2015,'' is to establish a legal 
framework to govern property rights of resources obtained from 
asteroids enabling this new industry and providing clarity for 
future entrepreneurs.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    In the United States, a number of private entities are 
investing in and developing the technical capability to explore 
and utilize outer space resources. Stakeholders from this 
community are concerned that legal and regulatory uncertainties 
are impeding their development and threaten to disrupt their 
continued investment and eventual activities in outer space. 
This bill addresses these concerns by giving effect to Outer 
Space Treaty rights and obligations through the establishment 
of a domestic legal framework to govern property rights of 
resources obtained from asteroids and to avoid causing harmful 
interference in outer space. Moreover, the bill directs the 
President to facilitate commercial utilization, discourage 
government barriers, promote the right of United States 
commercial entities to explore outer space and utilize space 
resources, and submit to Congress a report containing 
recommendations on regulatory uncertainty and authorizations 
necessary to meet the international obligations of the U.S.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    During the 113th and 114th Congresses, the House Committee 
on Science, Space, and Technology held nine hearings and four 
markups relevant to this bill.
    On February 28, 2013, the Subcommittee on Space held a 
hearing titled ``A Review of the Space Leadership Preservation 
Act'' to receive testimony on legislation (H.R. 6491) first 
introduced in the last Congress and re-introduced for the 113th 
Congress. This hearing informed the Science, Space, and 
Technology Committee's consideration of the policies, 
organization, programs, and budget in re-authorizing the 
National Aeronautics and Space Administration in this Congress. 
The Subcommittee heard testimony from The Honorable Frank R. 
Wolf, Chairman of the Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee, 
The Honorable John Culberson, Mr. A. Thomas Young, Chair of the 
Board for SAIC (testifying on his own behalf), and Mr. Elliot 
Pulham, Chief Executive Officer of The Space Foundation.
    On April 24, 2014, the Subcommittee on Space held a hearing 
titled ``An Overview of the National Aeronautics and Space 
Administration Budget for Fiscal Year 2014'' with NASA 
Administrator Charles Bolden to review the Administration's FY 
2014 budget request for the National Aeronautics and Space 
Administration and examine its priorities and challenges.
    On June 19, 2013, the Subcommittee on Space held a hearing 
titled, ``NASA Authorization Act of 2013.'' The purpose of the 
hearing was to review a discussion draft of the National 
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Authorization Act 
of 2013. The most recent NASA Authorization Act passed in 2010, 
authorized NASA for three years.
    On July 10, 2013, the Subcommittee on Space met to consider 
H.R. 2687, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration 
Authorization Act of 2013. This measure contained many 
provisions that affect commercial space.
    On July 18, 2013, the Committee on Science, Space, and 
Technology met to consider H.R. 2687, the National Aeronautics 
and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2013. This 
measure contained many provisions that affect commercial space.
    On November 20, 2013, the Subcommittee on Space held a 
hearing titled ``Commercial Space.'' The hearing examined 
commercial activities in space launch, communications, GPS, 
remote sensing, weather monitoring, suborbital tourism, science 
experimentation, and human spaceflight. The witnesses addressed 
what government policies would be helpful to the U.S. 
commercial space industry. Witnesses also addressed the 
policies contained in H.R. 3038, the Suborbital and Orbital 
Advancement and Regulatory Streamlining (SOARS) Act. The first 
witness panel consisted of the Honorable Kevin McCarthy, 
Majority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives. The second 
panel consisted of: Ms. Patricia Cooper, President of the 
Satellite Industry Association; Mr. Stuart Witt, CEO and 
General Manager of the Mojave Air and Space Port; and Dennis 
Tito, Chairman of the Inspiration Mars Foundation.
    On March 27, 2014, the Subcommittee on Space of the House 
Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing 
titled ``A Review of the National Aeronautics and Space 
Administration Budget for Fiscal Year 2015'' to review the 
Administration's fiscal year 2015 (FY15) budget request for the 
National Aeronautics and Space Administration and examine its 
priorities and challenges. The hearing had one witness, the 
Honorable Charles F. Bolden, Jr., Administrator of the National 
Aeronautics and Space Administration.
    On April 9, 2014, the Subcommittee on Space met to consider 
H.R. 4412, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration 
Authorization Act of 2014. The Act contained several provisions 
regarding barriers to commercial use of space.
    On April 29, 2014, the Committee on Science, Space, and 
Technology met to consider H.R. 4412, the National Aeronautics 
and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2014. The Act 
contained several provisions regarding barriers to commercial 
use of space.
    On May 9, 2014, the Space Subcommittee held a hearing 
titled ``Space Traffic Management: How to Prevent a Real Life 
`Gravity'.'' There are currently three agencies that play a 
primary role in tracking and mitigation of orbital debris that 
may be hazardous to operational satellites, or life and 
property on Earth if the debris reentered the Earth's 
atmosphere. The Joint Functional Component Command for Space 
(JFCC SPACE), part of the Department of Defense, is responsible 
for tracking orbital debris, the Federal Communications 
Commission (FCC) asserts jurisdiction for mitigating orbital 
debris from communications satellites, and the Federal Aviation 
Administration (FAA) regulates orbital debris from launch and 
reentry activities. This hearing explored the roles and 
responsibilities of the Department of Defense, FAA, and FCC in 
policing orbital debris, what authorities are currently granted 
by Congress to federal agencies, and how they coordinate these 
activities. The Subcommittee heard from five witnesses: Lt. 
Gen. John ``Jay'' Raymond, Commander, 14th Air Force, Air Force 
Space Command, and Commander, Joint Functional Component 
Command for Space, U.S. Strategic Command; Mr. George Zamka, 
Deputy Associate Administrator, Office of Commercial Space 
Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration; Mr. Robert 
Nelson, Chief Engineer, International Bureau, Federal 
Communications Commission; Mr. P.J. Blount, Adjunct Professor, 
Air and Space Law, University of Mississippi School of Law; and 
Mr. Brian Weeden, Technical Advisor, Secure World Foundation.
    On June 25, 2014, the Science, Space, and Technology 
Committee held a hearing titled ``Pathways to Exploration: A 
Review of the Future of Human Space Exploration.'' Section 204 
of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 required the agency to 
enter into a contract with the National Academies to review the 
future of human spaceflight. In 2012, the National Research 
Council appointed an ad hoc Committee on Human Spaceflight co-
chaired by Governor Daniels and Dr. Lunine. This hearing 
reviewed the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee's 
report Pathways to Exploration--Rationales and Approaches for a 
U.S. Program of Human Space Exploration released in June 2014. 
The Committee heard from two witnesses: Governor Mitch Daniels, 
Co-Chair of the Report and President, Purdue University and Dr. 
Jonathan Lunine, Co-Chair of the Report and Director, Cornell 
University's Center for Radiophysics and Space Research.
    On September 10, 2014, the hearing titled ``Exploring Our 
Solar System: The ASTEROIDS Act as a Key Step'' gave the 
Committee an overview of the variety of issues facing the 
planetary science community, including challenges the community 
is facing due to the low inventories of Pu-238 for deep space 
missions, NASA's proposed budget for planetary science, and 
potential commercial interests. Witnesses were also asked to 
comment on H.R. 5063, the American Space Technology for 
Exploring Resource Opportunities In Deep Space (ASTEROIDS) Act. 
The Subcommittee heard from five witnesses: Dr. Jim Green, NASA 
Planetary Science Division Director; Dr. Jim Bell, Professor of 
Earth and Space Science Exploration, Arizona State University, 
and President, Board of Directors, The Planetary Society; Dr. 
Mark Sykes, CEO and Director, Planetary Science Institute; 
Professor Joanne Gabrynowicz, Professor Emerita, Director 
Emerita, Journal of Space Law Editor-in-Chief Emerita, 
University of Mississippi; Dr. Philip Christensen, Co-Chair, 
NRC Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Science (CAPS), 
Chair, Mars Panel, NRC Planetary Decadal Survey, Regents 
Professor, Arizona State University.
    On April 16, 2015, the Space Subcommittee held a hearing 
titled ``An Overview of the Budget Proposal for the National 
Aeronautics and Space Administration for Fiscal Year 2016.'' 
The purpose of the hearing was to review the Administration's 
fiscal year 2016 (FY16) budget request for the National 
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and examine the 
Administration's priorities and challenges. The sole witness 
was the Honorable Charles F. Bolden, Jr., Administrator, 
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
    On May 13, 2015, the Committee on Science, Space, and 
Technology met to consider H.R. 2262, the Spurring Private 
Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship Act of 2015; 
H.R. 1508, the Space Resource Exploration and Utilization Act 
of 2015; H.R. 2261, the Commercial Remote Sensing Act of 2015; 
and H.R. 2263, the Office of Space Commerce Act.'' H.R. 1508 
was amended to change the definition of ``asteroid resource'' 
and to further ensure the bill would remain consistent with 
existing international obligations. All four bills passed in 
the Committee.
    The House Committee on Rules then promulgated a rule for 
H.R. 2262, which contained each of the four bills marked up on 
May 13, 2015 as four separate titles. The House passed the bill 
with a vote of 284 Yeas and 133 Nays.

                            COMMITTEE VIEWS

U.S. international obligations

    The Committee recognizes that the United States is a Party 
to the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States 
in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon 
and Other Celestial Bodies (``Outer Space Treaty''), as well as 
the Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by 
Space Objects, the Convention on Registration of Objects 
Launched in Outer Space, and Agreement on the Rescue of 
Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and Return of Objects 
Launched in Outer Space. There is nothing in this title which 
calls for the United States to violate its existing 
international obligations under these treaties to which it is a 
Party or to any other treaty to which it is a Party.

Claims of sovereignty

    This title does not claim sovereignty over outer space or 
any celestial bodies.

National appropriation

    Removing, taking possession, and using in-situ celestial 
resources, including in-situ asteroid resources, is not to be 
construed as an act of national appropriation by claim of 
sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other 
means.

Strengthening U.S. private sector in-situ asteroid resource exploration 
        and utilization 

    The successful exploration and use of in-situ asteroid 
resources is an important step in humanity's development and is 
in the national interests of the United States. Continued 
private sector investment in resource exploration and 
utilization is threatened by uncertainty as to the rights of 
U.S. private entities to remove, take possession of, and use 
in-situ asteroid resources. The committee finds it is 
imperative that the United States enact into law domestic 
legislation that gives effect to Outer Space Treaty provisions 
relevant to private sector in-situ asteroid resource removal, 
possession, and use.

Giving effect to Outer Space Treaty rights and obligations

    Treaty law creates rights and obligations binding on States 
and other international legal persons. But, when a treaty 
confers rights or imposes obligations on natural or legal 
persons, they can be given effect only if they have been made 
part of the domestic law of a party. Sec. 51303(a) gives an 
effect to the right to explore and use outer space by 
establishing under Federal law property rights over removed in-
situ asteroid resources. Sec. 51303(b) gives an effect to the 
obligation under Article IX of the Outer Space Treaty to avoid 
causing harmful interference in outer space through the grant 
of a private right of action in Federal courts.

Non-governmental entity exploration and use of celestial resources

    The Outer Space Treaty explicitly recognizes the right of 
``exploration and use'' of outer space, including the Moon and 
other celestial bodies.
    Article 1 of the Outer Space Treaty states: ``The 
exploration and use of outer space, including the Moon and 
other celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit 
and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their 
degree of economic or scientific development, and shall be the 
province of all mankind. Outer space, including the Moon and 
other celestial bodies, shall be free for exploration and use 
by all States without discrimination of any kind, on a basis of 
equality and in accordance with international law, and there 
shall be free access to all areas of celestial bodies. There 
shall be freedom of scientific investigation in outer space, 
including the Moon and other celestial bodies, and States shall 
facilitate and encourage international co-operation in such 
investigation.''
    The exploration and use of outer space includes the right 
to remove, take possession, and use in-situ natural resources 
from celestial bodies. In a letter dated November 28, 1979, the 
Secretary of State addressed to Senator Church, Chairman of 
Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the legality of removal, 
taking possession, and using in-situ natural resources from 
celestial bodies, including asteroids, under the Outer Space 
Treaty. In this letter, the Secretary of State wrote: ``Such 
removal is permitted by the article contained in the 1967 Outer 
Space Treaty which states, inter alia, that `Outer Space, 
including the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall be free 
for exploration and use by all States . . . '''
    On July 29, 1980, at the second session of hearings on the 
Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and 
Other Celestial Bodies, the Legal Adviser to the Department of 
State, Robert Owen, testified to the Senate Subcommittee on 
Science, Technology and Space that: ``The United States has 
long taken the position that Article 1 of that treaty [Outer 
Space Treaty] . . . recognizes the right of exploitation. We 
were and are aware, however, that this view is not shared by 
all States or commentators, some of whom take the position that 
the nonappropriation provisions in Article [II] of the 1967 
Treaty preclude exploitation of celestial natural resources and 
the reduction to private property.''
    In U.S. v. One Lucite Ball (unpublished Case No. 01-0116-
CIV-JORDAN), the U.S. District Court (S.D. Florida) upheld the 
right of Honduras to assert national property ownership over a 
Moon rock. The court discussed two sales of lunar rock samples 
involving private parties (one involving a slide of lunar dust 
sold at Sotheby's auction and the second involving the lunar 
sample and plaque given by the U.S. to Nicaragua that was 
purchased by a private buyer from the middle east).
    State practice is consistent with finding that exploration 
and use of outer space includes the right to remove, take 
possession, and use in-situ natural resources from celestial 
bodies. The United States, Russia, and Japan have all removed, 
taken possession, and used in-situ natural resources. These 
activities have never been protested by a State party to the 
treaty or judged in a court of law to be in violation of the 
Outer Space Treaty.
    The Committee notes that in a 2011 report of the NASA 
Office of Inspector General titled NASA's Management of Moon 
Rocks and Other Astromaterials Loaned for Research, Education, 
and Public Display, it is stated: ``Lunar material retrieved 
from the Moon during the Apollo Program is U.S. Government 
property.'' Moon rocks removed from the lunar surface by the 
Soviet Union Luna Programme were sold as private property to a 
private bidder at a Sotheby's auction in 1993 for the cost of 
$422,500. The Committee also notes that some activities under 
NASA's proposed Asteroid Recovery Mission may be done in 
partnership with private entities in the United States and may 
involve the removal and use of in-situ natural resources, 
consistent with the finding that exploration and use of outer 
space includes the right to remove, take possession, and use 
in-situ natural resources from celestial bodies.
    Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty explicitly recognizes 
that non-governmental entities, such as private corporations, 
may explore and use outer space. Article VI states, inter alia: 
``States Parties to the Treaty shall bear international 
responsibility for national activities in outer space, 
including the Moon and other celestial bodies, whether such 
activities are carried on by governmental agencies or by non-
governmental entities, and for assuring that national 
activities are carried out in conformity with the provisions 
set forth in the present Treaty.'' Non-governmental entities 
may explore and use outer space, including the use of outer 
space by removing, taking possession, and using in-situ natural 
resources (subject to the supervision and authorization of a 
State under Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty). Whether or 
not the end-use of such resources is for private purposes does 
not qualify the right to explore and use outer space.

Jurisdiction

    Federal courts are granted original jurisdiction over 
entities defined in Sec. 51301(4) and in-situ asteroid 
resources that have been removed from an asteroid by such 
entities. Federal courts are not granted jurisdiction over 
outer space, the Moon, other celestial bodies, or the asteroid 
from which the in-situ natural resource was removed.

Supervision and authorization

    Article 6 of the Outer Space Treaty obligates the United 
States to authorize and supervise non-governmental entities in 
outer space and ensure their activities are carried out in 
conformity with the Outer Space Treaty. The Department of 
Commerce, Department of Transportation, and the Federal 
Communications Commission all have authority to authorize and 
supervise the activities of non-governmental entities in outer 
space. Sec. 51302(b) directs the President to report to 
Congress as to whether existing regulatory authorities are 
necessary to meet the international obligations of the United 
States with respect to the exploration and utilization of space 
resources.
    The reason for qualifying this report with respect to 
exploration and utilization of space resources is that the 
Committee is aware of other proposed private sector activities 
in outer space (e.g. on-orbit satellite servicing, space 
tourism, human habitation, space solar generation, etc.) and is 
not directing the President to report on the sufficiency of 
existing authorities to meet international obligation with 
respect to these other activities.

                           Section-by-Section


Sec. 1. Short title

    Titles the Act the ``Space Resource Exploration and 
Utilization Act of 2015.''

Sec. 2. Title 51 amendment

    Amends Subtitle V of title 51, U.S. Code, by adding Chapter 
513, containing Sections 51301 (definitions), 51302 
(commercialization of space resource exploration and 
utilization), and 51303 (legal framework).
    Section 51301 defines ``space resource,'' ``asteroid 
resource,'' ``state,'' and ``United States commercial space 
resource utilization.''
    Section 51302 directs the President, acting through 
appropriate Federal agencies, to facilitate commercial 
exploration and utilization of space resources to meet national 
needs, to discourage government barriers to the development of 
industries for space exploration and utilization of space 
resources, and to promote the right of U.S. commercial entities 
to explore space and utilize space resources.
    This section also requires the President to submit to 
Congress a report containing recommendations for the allocation 
of responsibilities relating to the exploration and utilization 
of space resources among Federal agencies, and recommendations 
for any authorities necessary to meet the international 
obligations of the U.S. regarding the exploration and 
utilization of space resources.
    Section 51303 establishes that ``any asteroid resources 
obtained in outer space are the property of the entity that 
obtained such resources, which shall be entitled to all 
property rights thereto, consistent with applicable provisions 
of Federal law and existing international obligations.''
    Moreover, this section states that certain U.S. entities 
shall avoid causing harmful interference in outer space, and 
that a U.S. commercial space entity may bring civil action for 
relief for any action by another U.S. entity causing harmful 
interference to operations with respect to an asteroid resource 
utilization activity in space. In a civil action brought with 
respect to an asteroid resource utilization activity in space, 
a court shall enter judgment in favor of the plaintiff if the 
plaintiff acted in accordance with all existing international 
obligations of the U.S., if the plaintiff was first in time to 
conduct the activity, and if the activity is reasonable for the 
exploration and utilization of asteroid resources.
    Federal district courts will have original jurisdiction 
over actions regarding asteroid resource utilization activity 
without regards to the amount in controversy.

                       Explanation of Amendments

    An amendment to strike from Sec. 51301(2) ``an asteroid'' 
and insert ``a single asteroid'' was adopted. The purpose of 
this amendment is to ensure that an ``asteroid resource 
utilization activity'' is interpreted as on a single asteroid 
and not on any asteroid.
    An amendment to insert in Sec. 51303(a) ``and existing 
international obligations'' after ``Federal law'' was adopted. 
The purpose of this amendment is to condition that property 
rights over asteroid resources obtained in outer space are 
consistent with applicable provisions of U.S. international 
obligations.

                        Committee Consideration

    On May 13, 2015, the Committee met in open session and 
ordered reported favorably the bill, H.R. 1508, as amended, by 
roll call vote, a quorum being present.

[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]

              Application of Law to the Legislative Branch

    Section 102(b)(3) of Public Law 104-1 requires a 
description of the application of this bill to the legislative 
branch where the bill relates to the terms and conditions of 
employment or access to public services and accommodations. 
This bill establishes a legal framework to govern property 
rights of resources obtained from asteroids. As such this bill 
does not relate to employment or access to public services and 
accommodations.

  Statement of Oversight Findings and Recommendations of the Committee

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII and clause 
(2)(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives, the Committee's oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the descriptive portions of 
this report.

         Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives

    H.R. 1508, the ``Space Resource Exploration and Utilization 
Act of 2015,'' would establish a legal framework to govern 
property rights of resources obtained from asteroids enabling a 
new industry and providing clarity for future entrepreneurs.

                    Duplication of Federal Programs

    No provision of H.R. 1508 establishes or reauthorizes a 
program of the Federal Government known to be duplicative of 
another Federal program, a program that was included in any 
report from the Government Accountability Office to Congress 
pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139, or a program 
related to a program identified in the most recent Catalog of 
Federal Domestic Assistance.

                  Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings

    The Committee estimates that enacting H.R. 1508 does not 
direct the completion of any specific rule makings within the 
meaning of 5 U.S.C. 551.

                     Federal Advisory Committee Act

    The Committee finds that the legislation does not establish 
or authorize the establishment of an advisory committee within 
the definition of 5 U.S.C. App., Section 5(b).

                       Unfunded Mandate Statement

    Section 423 of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment 
Control Act (as amended by Section 101(a)(2) of the Unfunded 
Mandate Reform Act, P.L. 104-4) requires a statement as to 
whether the provisions of the reported bill include unfunded 
mandates. In compliance with this requirement the Committee has 
received a letter from the Congressional Budget Office included 
herein.

                         Earmark Identification

    H.R. 1508 does not include any congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in 
clause 9 of rule XXI.

                           Committee Estimate

    Clause 3(d)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires an estimate and a comparison by the 
Committee of the costs that would be incurred in carrying out 
H.R. 1508. However, clause 3(d)(3)(B) of that rule provides 
that this requirement does not apply when the Committee has 
included in its report a timely submitted cost estimate of the 
bill prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office under section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act.

     Budget Authority and Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    With respect to the requirements of clause 3(c)(2) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and section 
308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and with respect 
to requirements of clause (3)(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives and section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee has received 
the following cost estimate for H.R. 1508 from the Director of 
Congressional Budget Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                      Washington, DC, May 20, 2015.
Hon. Lamar Smith,
Chairman, Committee on Science, Space, and Technology,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 1508, the Space 
Resource Exploration and Utilization Act of 2015.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Kathleen 
Gramp.
            Sincerely,
                                                        Keith Hall.
    Enclosure.

H.R. 1508--Space Resource Exploration and Utilization Act of 2015

    H.R. 1508 would establish certain policies and guidelines 
regarding the development of space resources by nonfederal 
entities. Existing international agreements authorize such 
activities under certain conditions, including requirements for 
national regulatory regimes to resolve liability, ownership, 
and operational issues. The bill would create a domestic 
framework for assigning property rights for resources from 
asteroids and for settling any related legal disputes. It also 
would direct the President to submit a report within six months 
of enactment on any administrative and statutory changes needed 
to implement federal programs and international agreements for 
those projects.
    Assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts, CBO 
estimates that implementing H.R. 1508 would cost about $1 
million over the 2016-2020 period. CBO anticipates that 
developing a policy framework for this nascent industry would 
require levels of expertise and effort similar to that of 
studies done by expert panels at the National Academies of 
Science and Public Administration. Other provisions in the bill 
would have no significant budgetary effects, CBO estimates. 
Enacting H.R. 1508 would not affect direct spending or 
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
    H.R. 1508 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Kathleen Gramp. 
The estimate was approved by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (new matter is 
printed in italic and existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

                      TITLE 51, UNITED STATES CODE



                           Subtitle I--General

Chap.                                                               Sec.
      Definitions..................................................10101
     * * * * * * *

         Subtitle V--Programs Targeting Commercial Opportunities

     * * * * * * *
51301Space resource exploration and utilization.......................

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Subtitle V--PROGRAMS TARGETING COMMERCIAL OPPORTUNITIES

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


        CHAPTER 513--SPACE RESOURCE EXPLORATION AND UTILIZATION

Sec.
51301. Definitions.
51302. Commercialization of space resource exploration and utilization.
51303. Legal framework.

Sec. 51301. Definitions

  In this chapter:
          (1) Space resource.--The term ``space resource'' 
        means a natural resource of any kind found in situ in 
        outer space.
          (2) Asteroid resource.--The term ``asteroid 
        resource'' means a space resource found on or within a 
        single asteroid.
          (3) State.--The term ``State'' means any of the 
        several States, the District of Columbia, the 
        Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, 
        American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern 
        Mariana Islands, and any other commonwealth, territory, 
        or possession of the United States.
          (4) United States commercial space resource 
        utilization entity.--The term ``United States 
        commercial space resource utilization entity'' means an 
        entity providing space resource exploration or 
        utilization services, the control of which is held by 
        persons other than a Federal, State, local, or foreign 
        government, and that is--
                  (A) duly organized under the laws of a State;
                  (B) subject to the subject matter and 
                personal jurisdiction of the courts of the 
                United States; or
                  (C) a foreign entity that has voluntarily 
                submitted to the subject matter and personal 
                jurisdiction of the courts of the United 
                States.

Sec. 51302. Commercialization of space resource exploration and 
                    utilization

  (a) In general.--The President, acting through appropriate 
Federal agencies, shall--
          (1) facilitate the commercial exploration and 
        utilization of space resources to meet national needs;
          (2) discourage government barriers to the development 
        of economically viable, safe, and stable industries for 
        the exploration and utilization of space resources in 
        manners consistent with the existing international 
        obligations of the United States; and
          (3) promote the right of United States commercial 
        entities to explore outer space and utilize space 
        resources, in accordance with the existing 
        international obligations of the United States, free 
        from harmful interference, and to transfer or sell such 
        resources.
  (b) Report required.--Not later than 180 days after the date 
of the enactment of this section, the President shall submit to 
Congress a report that contains recommendations for--
          (1) the allocation of responsibilities relating to 
        the exploration and utilization of space resources 
        among Federal agencies; and
          (2) any authorities necessary to meet the 
        international obligations of the United States with 
        respect to the exploration and utilization of space 
        resources.

Sec. 51303. Legal framework

  (a) Property rights.--Any asteroid resources obtained in 
outer space are the property of the entity that obtained such 
resources, which shall be entitled to all property rights 
thereto, consistent with applicable provisions of Federal law 
and existing international obligations.
  (b) Safety of operations.--A United States commercial space 
resource utilization entity shall avoid causing harmful 
interference in outer space.
  (c) Civil action for relief from harmful interference.--A 
United States commercial space resource utilization entity may 
bring a civil action for appropriate legal or equitable relief, 
or both, under this chapter for any action by another entity 
subject to United States jurisdiction causing harmful 
interference to its operations with respect to an asteroid 
resource utilization activity in outer space.
  (d) Rule of decision.--In a civil action brought pursuant to 
subsection (c) with respect to an asteroid resource utilization 
activity in outer space, a court shall enter judgment in favor 
of the plaintiff if the court finds--
          (1) the plaintiff--
                  (A) acted in accordance with all existing 
                international obligations of the United States; 
                and
                  (B) was first in time to conduct the 
                activity; and
          (2) the activity is reasonable for the exploration 
        and utilization of asteroid resources.
  (e) Exclusive jurisdiction.--The district courts of the 
United States shall have original jurisdiction over an action 
under this chapter without regard to the amount in controversy.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


                             MINORITY VIEWS

    H.R. 1508 performs a service in starting a discussion of 
the many issues it raises about property rights in space, 
international treaty obligations, and appropriate licensing and 
regulation of outer space activities. However, we are not at 
all close to resolving those issues. The debate about H.R. 1508 
is not about whether or not we should encourage the development 
of an asteroid mining industry at some point in the fixture. It 
is about the fact that this legislation is premature. There has 
been no legislative hearing on this bill, or even a 
subcommittee markup, nor have we gotten the views of the 
Administration, including those responsible for tracking our 
international treaty obligations.
    The University of Mississippi space law expert, Prof. 
Joanne Gabrynowicz, invited by the Majority last year to 
testify on an antecedent bill, noted some of the legal and 
regulatory issues that were unaddressed in the previous version 
of this bill. In addition, in a May 12, 2015 letter to Ranking 
Member Johnson, which has been entered into the record, Prof. 
Gabrynowicz raised the very significant concern that the bill 
appears to be in conflict with the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, to 
which the United States is a signatory. Simply including the 
phrase ``consistent with the existing international obligations 
of the United States'' in part of the bill doesn't make that 
inconsistency go away--it just reinforces the fact that this 
bill needs much more review than this Committee has given it up 
to this point--because the Committee has given this current 
bill no review.
    Supporters of the bill will argue that it doesn't enable a 
company to claim an asteroid, but in fact the bill clearly 
states that ``any asteroid resources obtained in outer space 
are the property of the entity that obtained those resources''. 
The Outer Space Treaty prohibits ``national appropriation by 
claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any 
other means.'' To quote Professor Gabrynowicz, ``making 
unextracted, in situ `asteroid resources' subject to U.S. 
Federal law and requiring the President `to meet national 
needs'''--which this bill does--``is a form of national 
appropriation by `other means'.''
    Supporters will also argue that existing FAA licensing 
authorities are sufficient for the purposes of this bill. That 
is simply not true. FAA only provides licenses for commercial 
launches and reentries. FAA does not have oversight over 
commercial activities that occur in orbit or on or around 
celestial bodies. The point is, the bill does not provide for 
any licensing regime by any agency of the U.S. government. 
Prof. Joanne Gabrynowicz, in her letter to Ranking Member 
Johnson, wrote, ``Unlicensed U.S. commercial space activities 
are unprecedented in United Space Law''. She went on to also 
say: ``Licensing is how the U.S. meets its obligations to 
authorize and continually supervise the space activities of 
non-government entities under the Outer Space Treaty.'' This 
bill has no licensing regime to govern the activities 
undertaken in the bill.
    In addition to Prof. Gabrynowicz's concerns, there are many 
other ambiguities and unresolved issues that need attention. 
For example, ``obtain[ed] such resources''' is left undefined. 
Would simply being the first to land a probe on an asteroid and 
have it collect a sample, whether or not it returned it to 
Earth, thereby confer property rights from that point forward 
onto the commercial company who sent the probe? Further, in the 
``Rule of Decision'' provision, how is one to define an 
activity that is ``reasonable for the exploration and 
utilization of asteroid resources,'' and why are simple 
``exploration'' activities included in the Rule of Decision at 
all? These questions become important because the bill is quite 
prescriptive in saying the court ``shall enter judgment in 
favor of the plaintiff . . .''
    Finally, supporters will say that this bill has been vetted 
in the Administration and there is a lot of support for it in 
the Administration. That also is not accurate. We are aware of 
no agency of the U.S. government that is [has issued any formal 
opinion or support] supporting the passage of this bill in its 
current form. This Committee should take the time and make the 
effort to come up with policy and potential legislation that 
will actually work without causing unintended consequences.
                                             Eddie Bernice Johnson.

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